Statement from Self-Injury Support about Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) model and the High Intensity Network (HIN) approach:  

We feel like we are coming late to make a statement about the recent exposure of SIM and HIN approaches to responding to people in distress who may present as ‘high intensity users’ and want to wholeheartedly thank and support #stopsim and all other campaigning comrades for their tireless work in bringing these shocking issues to the fore.  

While we are pleased to hear that former police officer Paul Jennings has closed the network, amid increasing accusations of poor practice and inappropriate use of data, we remain concerned about the atmosphere across mental health provision that allows such an approach to flourish in the first place. The steps taken to criminalise distress as proposed by the model feel akin to the treatment frequently reported to us by people who use self-harm, where seeking help is often met with judgment, and individuals experience of distress discounted.  

We believe: 

  • It is wrong to criminalise mental health distress.  
  • All people experiencing mental health distress deserve a compassionate and kind response. 
  • Successful boundaries (individual and team) both empower and nurture. They do not punish. 
  • Approaches such as SIM/HIN further marginalize groups already discriminated against in our society. This is unacceptable.  
  • Too frequently those in distress are asked to sanitize and modify their pain to make it palatable for those who have a responsibility to care for them. In order for real change to occur in mental health provision, staff need support to build deeper empathy for their clients alongside developing their own personal and professional resilience to avoid the chronic burnout currently prevalent in the sector. The emotional labour demanded to achieve this should not fall on the shoulders of people in crisis when they are at their most vulnerable.  


Self-Injury Support, 17th June 2021 


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